Get to know one of our partners, Simon Ward

I was always playing around with motorbikes and cars, so Mechanical Engineering seemed like an obvious choice.
  1. You started your career as a graduate trainee in the manufacturing sector, what drove your career choice?

I was always playing around with motorbikes and cars, so Mechanical Engineering seemed like an obvious choice. The parts of my degree I enjoyed the most were production engineering and operations management, which led to Manufacturing.

  1. You spent the bulk of your career working with a global leader in the FMGC sector, PepsiCo, what have you taken from this experience that has shaped you as an individual?

PepsiCo is big on personal development, so I gained a great deal over 15 years building leadership skills in particular.  However, the most significant thing was the breadth of experience I gained– I did something like ten different roles spanning all business areas.

  1. How has your MBA benefitted you?

I think an MBA programme pushes you to think more broadly about businesses as a whole and how they fit strategically (or otherwise!) into the economic landscape.  It also makes you think about business issues more rigorously, by matching up academic approaches with the ‘real world’.  The tools that you gain from the MBA you use throughout your career, whatever the sector.

  1. What drove your decision to move into the world of consultancy?

I always intended my corporate career to have a limited lifespan and ultimately work with smaller, more agile businesses or start up my own.  The opportunity to be a part of Axentia from its formative stages was a perfect fit, with the variety of exciting work that it brings.

  1. You are a keen cyclist, what is the most challenging ride you have undertaken, and what did you learn about yourself?

Probably the biggest ride was “The Marmotte”, an annual event in the French Alps that a group of us did in 2019, along with about 15,000 others! It’s 175km in a day with 5,200m of climbing.  Think I was in too much pain on the day to learn much about myself, but mostly it is the adage – never give up.

  1. What are your future goals, and why?

To have an interesting balance of work and other pursuits and to never retire…. I’m quite a big fan of Charles Handy who writes about splitting your time across multiple activities and changing that mix over time to suit your lifestyle – not just working for a big corporation for 45 years and then stopping.

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